Stoneleigh 2019

STONELEIGH 2019

So Stoneleigh has come and gone and we have finally managed to get our first proper show under our belts.

We did get cars on display at a couple of events last Summer but this was the first time we have attended an official kit car event.

I have attended shows with the kids for over twenty years and have sadly seen the decline in the support these events get. I can remember Stoneleigh being the biggest of numerous events across the country but unfortunately it appears to be the only surviving event for the industry. It never ceases to amaze me at what people can achieve, often on a tight budget. There are some amazing cars out there.

Over recent years I have noticed that some of the more interesting and unusual kits and suppliers seem to have faded away so we weren’t sure where to pitch ourselves. We supply three kits but with a limited budget didn’t know what car to display. I was mindful that our Kobra demonstrator is now in need of a tidy up and it couldn’t compete with some of the big guns who were undoubtably going to show some fantastic cars. Our Koupe demonstrator is currently under construction so that wasn’t an option so we found ourselves falling back on the Kalifornia which although a year old was our first build and the car that started our little venture.

Again the stand design was something that we couldn’t spend loads on so we needed to come up with something a little different. Belinda always has vintage items hanging around so we went with a 60’s theme to match the car. We purchased some old apple crates and filled them with 60’s memorabilia along with some pop-up stands purchased on Ebay and supplied by Chris at Tribute.

On Saturday we slowly headed up the A34 bound for Kenilworth. Somehow I managed to end up plodding along in the old motor home with the girls whilst Belinda cruised up in comfort in the Kalifornia, stopping off at Warwick Services for a coffee which seems to be the law for all kit and classic car drivers.

After a coupe of trouble free hours we arrived at Stoneleigh and although the signage was quite clear there was a little confusion at the gate. The poor chaps booking us all in didn’t seem to have a clue and some of those in the building traffic jam became very frustrated.

Once inside again directions and instructions were very vague with the guys employed to sort things out not having and clear instructions. We had paid for an electrical hook up but nobody new how that worked. Eventually some very organised campers set things up and thank you to those guys who moved their caravans so that we could plug in. There was further confusion as organisers didn’t have any real plan of how to get to our stand in Hall 2 and as we hadn’t exhibited before we had to make it up.

Early Sunday morning we were up bright and breezy and ready to go. After the mandatory bacon sandwich I got dressed up in my Goodwood style classic overalls and flat cap and headed off to the hall, leaving the women folk applying make up etc etc etc….

We were positioned right in front of the doors in Hall 2 so we were really happy as visitors to the show were faced with our bright red car as soon as they entered. By 10:00 we were all set and hoping for a good reaction. I was stood there like something from Open All Hours, Belinda and her friend Sue were dressed to impress and Ben was sporting his Classic Coachworks polo shirt and baseball cap.

 

Almost immediately we were talking to potential customers making a conscious effort to allow them to touch and go over the car, lifting bonnet, the boot and getting in. This is not always an easy thing to do but we felt this was really important as we want to be open and honest. The red car was our first and isn’t the best example in the world, perhaps a little rough and ready in places but it got a lot of attention.

People loved the car, what we are trying to achieve at the budget end of the industry and how we had presented ourselves with the period 60’s feel. Outside there was great support from the Tribute owners club and we thank them for travelling to the venue and offering their support. Without you guys we would have had no Kobras to show off and we really do value your comments and ideas.

Monday was a similar day with plenty of visitors but not quite as busy as Sunday.

By the end of the two days we were all pretty worn out and my sore throat has definitely suffered but we are over the moon. We have spoken to old customers, potential new customers and got some great contacts.

Hopefully we will now receive some orders for kits or builds and look forward to the future.

Numbers are falling and prices are rising but we need to keep Stoneleigh alive so we will definitely be there next year.

Once again, thank you all for the kind comments and the overwhelming support we have received. We love what we do and the positivity drives us onwards and upwards.

Particular thanks to :-

Chris at Tribute, TKC Magazine, Complete Kit Car, Grassbanks, (Richard, Dave P, Steve D)

(please see images on Stoneleigh page from main menu)

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ROAD TRIPS

Today we took a rare day off and managed to get away from the workshop for a few hours. With no real plan we fired up the California, put the roof down and headed off to Sussex. Annoyingly we soon found ourselves having to slowly plod through the 50 mph variable speed limit which the M27 has become. I’m not sure if these new ‘smart’ motorways have been named correctly. We regularly travel to Dover and what used to be a trouble free journey now takes ages. Anyway, as we headed past Chichester we started to see signs for Goodwood which gave us an idea. Leaving the A27 we rumbled through the country lanes towards the circuit, passing Rolls Royce en route. As we pulled up outside the main gates we were met by two nice chaps in their distinctive white Goodwood overalls, made all the more famous by the excellent revival events. It turns out there was some sort of corporate media event on but as we had turned up in a nice shiny red car looking a million dollars we were allowed to park up and have a nose at what was going on. Lucky for us we had managed to gate crash a supercar media day with all the major players. With Ferrari, Porsche, Aston Martin and McLaren all represented it was amazing to see people stopping and taking photos of our car as it sat next the main straight. After having a cup of tea in the sunshine and watching a number of people with big smiles rag very expensive cars around the circuit we headed off on the next part of our journey. As we waited to pull out onto to the road a very nice orange McLaren pulled up next to us. Once again we found it strange to attract more attention as we puled away and the exhaust came into play. Its worth mentioning that Matt at Fastfit in Basingstoke does a great job with the exhaust and I would never have guessed that it was possible to get such a great sound out of an aging Z3. After thirty minutes we found ourselves slowly cruising along Brighton seafront and onto Madeira Drive. As we drifted along I was suddenly aware of a scooter right up behind us, weaving left to right. As we both turned around to see what was going on the rider, who was a very happy Italian man said “OH MY GARLIC, I LOVE YOUR CAR”. He continued on behind us for a few minutes videoing with his head cam as he did. We didn’t have ages to spent on the cost before heading back to reality so a quick burger in the American Diner and we were on the road again. I have to say where ever we go in the car it attracts attention and I know it is just a tribute to the 60’s but it feels like you are driving something very special. The sun catches the bright red paint, and sparkles off the chrome door handles and hinges and the sound when you come to a stop turns heads where ever you go. We have also recently had the time and finances to complete the interior so the new leather looks and smells great. At this point I will mention Autotrim in Reading. Paul does a great job and just gets on with what ever we throw at him. With the Summer on its way and the days getting longer I think there will be plenty of days out and some excellent photo opportunities.

Goodwood in the sunshine

Goodwood in the sunshine

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Surprising how many pairs of boots and bags one lady can get into the boot.

 

My apologies for any grammar or spelling mistakes, it’s all been a bit of a rush

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Andrew's Kobra build

My Classic Coachworks experience

 
Part 1 

So, having reached that stage of my life where the kids are charging about under their own steam and not really knowing where they are from one moment to the next, I was in search of a project which would keep me occupied through the winter months. 

I am a qualified highways civil engineer and work on the commercial side so my practical experience of working on cars was very limited although I had ‘tinkered’ with motorcycles during my MotoX days back in the late 80’s early 90’s but having had Company Cars for many years even lifting the bonnet was a rarity. 

Whilst browsing ebay one day in search of the next bargain and or inspiration I came across an advert which grabbed my attention for a body-kit to transform a BMW Z3 into an AC Cobra style sports car. The concept seemed to be an attractive option for my limited mechanical skills. I was very interested when I discovered that Classic Coachworks were based in Basingstoke which was only one junction up the motorway from home. 

A quick Google search tracked down the company website which contained some more information so with some trepidation I used the ‘Contact’ tab to see if I could go and have a look at the whole process to see if it was truly something, I thought I could undertake. I read all the articles on the website thoroughly including the Z3 buyers guide and researched ebay for potential donor vehicles. 

Within a couple of hours I’d had a reply from Ian and made an appointment to go and have a look at the cars and kits on Saturday 13th October 2018. I will always remember Ian’s directions which included turning left at the ‘tank’, I didn’t clarify the description but assumed water tank or fuel tank but was shocked to find it was actually a Chieftan tank (I think)! 

Having spent a couple of hours with Ian and Belinda both of whom were charming hosts, very knowledgeable and full of excitement of the project I decided to pursue looking for a donor car. 

I had noticed a car that appeared on Ebay, Auto Trader and Gumtree which seemed a good buy as it was a 2002 2.2litre car from a dealer based in Marlow, Bucks so on returning home on Saturday I gave the dealer a call that afternoon and arranged a viewing for the same day. 

Turned out that this Z3 was a trade in for a dealer who specialised in high end cars and was keen to ‘move on’ this car from his stock. A quick test drive confirmed that it didn’t have an overheating problem and almost all the gadgets worked. It did have a warning light on the dash which was in the advert description and research had suggested that this was a relatively easy fix. 

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I’m not the best ‘haggler’ but I purchased the car for £2,500.00 and thoroughly enjoyed the journey home back to Fleet in Hampshire as the owner of my first ever ‘sports car’

The remainder of the weekend was spent thoroughly cleaning the car and looking for things that didn’t work and needed fixing. I have a strange obsession when washing my cars to remove the wheels so that I can clean the wheels thoroughly inside and out. This exposed my first task as the rear wheel disks looked rather unsightly.

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I think my enjoyment of this project will almost certainly be the journey more than the finished product so with huge enthusiasm I trawled the internet and social media to source some new brakes. By chance I discovered in Lincoln someone selling brand new in the box never used discs and pads for a Z3 for £100. My wife’s brother lives in Lincoln and was due to come and visit the following week so I agreed to purchase the brakes for £80 and for my brother in law to collect them for me. 

Whilst I explained to my brother in law that he was collecting brake discs and pads I hadn’t actually stressed that these would be heavy so was somewhat surprised to discover that he collected them on his scooter and was actually bitten several times by the seller’s dog who found the whole vent hilarious! Still £20 for each corner seemed a bargain! 

Space in my garage is sparse so it became clear that selling off the removed panels from the car promptly would be necessary before taking delivery of the new body-kit. The panels all unbolted very easily and the following week after getting the car home the front wings, sills and rear wings were all on ebay for £0.99 each. I always start my auctions at £0.99 on the basis that items are only worth what someone is prepared to pay so I set my expectations very low. Those that buy and sell on ebay will know that it often throws up some odd negotiations and the same happened with these six 16 year old car panels which could have been purchased for the total of £6 at auction but I had a buyer want to pay £300 and send a courier to collect them, I guess he wanted to make sure he was guaranteed the full set !

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The next job was to replace the broken seat belt guide on the passenger seat which also had a fault where the height adjusting motor seemed jammed. The seat was unbolted and lifted out onto the work bench. A trawl through the various BMW forums seemed to suggest that the motor had been wound against the stop and become stuck which could easily be fixed whilst the seat was upside down on the bench.

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The seat belt guide was a very much different task as firstly the damaged guide needed to be removed as the back plate is stitched onto the seat cover then the replacement fed up inside the seat and held with the press washers attached whilst the new guide is firmly pressed together. 

Lots of swearing, cuts and scratches later the new guide was installed

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Having now become committed to the project I paid a deposit for the bodykit and progressed with removing and disposing of the front end of the car so the bonnet, headlights and front bumper were photographed and advertised on ebay. I didn’t have much interest but again had an enquiry from someone who wanted the parts plus the roll bars for his car. I wanted to change the roll bars for a nicer looking chrome set anyway so negotiated the sale of the parts plus a swop for all the interior trim from a pre-facelift car which would be required for the aftermarket chrome roll bars plus £250. 

This where my haste and inexperience started to bite me as I didn’t remove the latches from the bonnet as I didn’t realise I needed to keep them plus the ‘ebay swopper’ forget the brackets which support the sub-woofer in a pre-facelift car. He promised to pop them in the post but they never appeared! He also left behind all the fixings for the roll bars and no forwarding address so a valuable lesson learnt! 

The body kit comes this weekend which will be part 2 ………..